By Harold McGee
Fried potatoes are some of the world’s favorite foods. Deep-fried potato sticks and slices and the technique of double-frying were all well known in Europe by the middle of the 19th century, and in England were attributed mainly to the French: hence the term “French fry” for what the French simply call fried potatoes (pommes frites). These products happily turned out to be among the few foods whose quality need not be compromised by mass production. Of course they’re rich: the frying oil in which they’re immersed coats their surface and is drawn into the tiny pores created when the surface dries out. The proportion of oil to potato depends on the surface area. Chips, which are almost all surface, average about 35% oil, while thick fries are more like 10–15%.